Creature Feature

Got scary movies on the brain? Mmm…. BRAAAAIIINS….!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

We’re fascinated by cinema ghosts, ghouls – and zombies! Is it the thrill, or just masochism?

Matthew Hudson and colleagues from the University of Turku investigated. They screened a scary-movie double feature for an audience of two hundred. The researchers monitored their brain activity using MRI. Specifically, they zeroed in on the brain area that correlates with anxiety and threat perception.

What did they learn?

Our brains are MORE than just zombie food! Researchers determined that moviegoers’ brains experience two unique fears. One is DREAD, that feeling when your neck hairs bristle and your Spidey senses tingle. The second? SHOCK, when Freddy Krueger appears and you JUMP from your seat.

Dread and shock feed each other and grow stronger as the movie progresses. DREAD heightens our senses so we know that SHOCK is coming. Horror builds these fears, creates excitement, and brings us back for the sequel.

Next time you watch a creature feature, sit back and enjoy… the science! I’ll get the popcorn! But what’s in there? A SEVERED FINGER?